Libertarian Newspaper Publishers for Obama


Freedom Newspapers CEO Scott Flanders—he who heads up a chain of libertarian broadsheets, including the Orange County Register—is voting for the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Flanders said he voted for Libertarian nominee Ed Clark in 1980 and for Bill Clinton in 1992, but has otherwise voted Republican… There was some back-and-forth over the practical vs. the philosophical approach to politics, and Flanders said that in this election, for him, "the No. 1 issue is who will get us out of Iraq."

OK, I'm thinking, if you really mean that, there's only one major candidate you can support. But there's no way you are going to stand there and say you support him.

Editorial writer Steve Greenhut told Flanders he thought he was really making an argument for not voting. Not true, Flanders said, and then he did it. He said the words, "Barack Obama." As in, that's who any true freedom-lover should vote for.

At that moment, I thought the wailing ghost of R.C. Hoiles would burst through the ceiling and the floor beneath us would split into a ragged, cleaving maw we'd all tumble into – swallowed whole by the earth. Better no company at all than one whose CEO supports a Democrat for president.

But there was a hush as Flanders reasoned that Obama is the best candidate to work on four top libertarian reforms: 1) Iraq withdrawal, 2) restoring the separation of church and state; 3) easing off victimless crimes such as drug use; 4) curtailing the Patriot Act.Obama will probably raise taxes, Flanders says, (although, then again, maybe he won't, ala J.F.K.) and in 2012, it will be time to put a Republican in the White House.

I think the logic of Flanders' 1992 Clinton vote still holds up: It paved the way for a Republican Congress that cowed and limited Clinton, and moved him to compromise on some good laws. I can't say what R.C. Hoiles' ghost thinks about this.

Brian Doherty profiled Hoiles and Freedom Newspapers last year, and all you need to know about the company's place in the libertarian movement is in Doherty's Radicals for Capitalism.